Eating Healthy While Traveling

Jun 7, 2017
Employer Experience

Eating Healthy While Traveling

Tis the traveling season! We have a few trips planned this summer, one via plane and others by car. I don’t know about you, but my family always seems to have munchies en route to our destination and an appetite that grows while on vacation. Does this happen to you? Not sure what that is about. Maybe it helps pass time, or it's the anticipation of being in a new place or the hot sun that makes everyone hungrier. I will say though, packing some healthy snacks that are fairly mess-free and easy to bring has become part of what we do.


It keeps us from grabbing excessive amounts or being tempted by overly-processed foods (aka cookies, chips, or soda) when flying or on the road. Plus, it saves us money when we do stop for lunch on the road since we aren’t ravenous when we arrive, especially since majority of the time food choices are limited and may not be the healthiest. Lastly, healthy snacks/foods prevent everyone from feeling sluggish and grumpy and no one wants that on vacation!


This doesn’t mean “fun” foods (e.g. chips, ice-cream, adult beverage) are forbidden on our vacation, but bringing healthy foods definitely helps with overindulging on foods that tend to be higher in calories, fat, sodium and sugar. So, if your family has some fun trips coming up this summer – whether by car, by plane, or other mode of transportation – below you will find some healthy snacks that I think are great for travel and easy to take along. Oh and just a little tip, I like to think about the My Plate method when packing “travel” foods. This way, I have all my bases covered when creating a list of healthy snacks. And yes, you can take your own food through airport security, provided you follow TSA guidelines for anything considered a liquid.*

When traveling by plane

  • Energy bars (we like Larabars, KIND bars, and Cliff bars)
  • Nuts/seeds (portioned out in snack bags - ¼ cup is 1 serving size)
  • Dried/fresh fruit (e.g. apple chips, raisins, grapes, blueberries – stored in a little container to prevent getting squashed and making a mess)
  • Fresh veggies (e.g. cherry tomatoes, sliced or baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, sliced peppers, frozen peas or edamame stored in little containers)
  • Nut butter and/or hummus* (In a little packet or container that follows TSA guidelines)
  • Cheese sticks
  • Popcorn, whole grain crackers (a snack size bag)
  • Water bottle* (We fill up with water once we get past security)
  • Chocolate (I enjoy a sweet treat, so a few small squares of dark chocolate or mini morsels)

These foods don’t have strong odors that will offend any passengers sitting next to you and again don’t create a huge clean up. I pack at least 1-2 fruits and 2-3 veggies, a lean protein, healthy fat, a whole grain and a sweet treat of some sort (my guilty pleasure). I will also add, it is best to choose water, coffee, low-fat milk or unsweetened tea for inflight drinks. You will stay more hydrated and refreshed with the above listed beverages compared to ones that are overly caffeinated, alcoholic or loaded with added sugars. I also pack in my suitcase a few energy bars, nuts and dried fruit for the return home. Depending on where the destination is, I stop by a grocery store or farmers market and grab some local fresh fruit and veggies to have for on the way home. I find that visiting a farmers market is a great way to capture a sense of the local community.

* You can take solid foods through security, but according to the TSA website, any creamy dips, spreads, or other liquids must be placed in containers 3.4 oz or smaller and placed in a quart clear sized plastic bag. This includes foods such as jelly, peanut butter, spreadable cheeses, sauces, salad dressing, etc.

When taking a road trip


In addition to the items listed above under “traveling by plane”, I now bring a cooler to fill it with more healthy items:

  • Fruits (Ones that may require a little more work to get to the fruit or may have a stronger odor – e.g. canned fruit (in fruit juice), banana, dates, oranges)
  • Veggies (Ones that are easy to just pop in your mouth and other veggies too – e.g. Kale chips, salsa)
  • Sandwiches (Bringing foods that may need to stay cooler longer – e.g. PBJ, turkey sandwiches, a jar of nut butter)
  • Protein powder mix (I either buy a small packet or put some in a small container).
  • Dairy (can easily be kept in a cooler to stay fresh – e.g. frozen yogurt sticks, cut up cheese slices)
  • Whole Grains (e.g. a packet of plain oatmeal, whole grain cereal, tortilla chips)
  • Water bottle (refill at rest stops)

Do I bring my entire kitchen on a road trip? Not exactly, but I do bring my small blender (e.g. Nutri Bullet). That is because I love smoothies and if I am driving somewhere, why not take it along? Plus, I do like to have some food available when we arrive at our destination and to have throughout our stay. It just makes for some quick and easy healthy meals. I am curious what food items you have brought on a vacation? Did you find when you bring along some nutrient-dense snacks (e.g. blueberries) that you eat less of the calorie-dense (e.g. blueberry pie) foods? Challenge yourself to bring a couple fresh foods that are not processed on your trip!


We are also here to help! If you’re ready for support or want more information on healthy eating, drop us an email or give us a call at 877-293-9355 ext. 0!

– Kari Martinez MS, RD, LDN | Registered Dietitian

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